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Israeli Minister Mocks To-Be-Deported Kids

Shas chairman refers to ‘field trip’

Marc Tracy
August 10, 2010
Interior Minister Yishai last month.(David Buimovitch/AFP/Getty Images)
Interior Minister Yishai last month.(David Buimovitch/AFP/Getty Images)

Last Friday, Liel Leibovitz reported in Tablet Magazine on the Israeli government’s plans to expel approximately 400 children of illegal foreign workers. “It is hard to exaggerate the wickedness of this decision, and its fundamental negation of both the spirit and the letter of Judaism,” Liel argued. He made a convincing case—not only for the policy’s cruelty, but for its impracticality, and finally for its betrayal of what Zionism should be.

Liel persuaded me. But there are probably reasonable people who could differ with him.

There is reasonable, though, and then there is Eli Yishai. The chairman of the ultra-religious Shas Party, as interior minister Yishai is actually in charge of effecting these kids’ deportations. So what is his response? “The children need to be told that their field trip has ended,” he said yesterday. “Is one of them going to stand up and cry?”

Presumably Yishai is cranky—or, if you will, being an asshole—because the 400 deportations actually represent a compromise: He had wanted an additional 800 kids to be forced out.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.